“Vanessa Sands is afraid of the dark. And heights. And the ocean. Fortunately for Vanessa, her sister Justine has always been there to comfort her. That is until the final moment when Justine plummets to her death during an ill-timed leap near the family’s vacation home in Winter Harbor. Everyone assumes that Justine’s death was accidental. Everyone except Vanessa. She is determined to uncover the truth.
Then another body washes up on the beach. And another….All of them men, grinning from ear to ear.
The deaths bring to the surface the root of Vanessa’s fears, and the secret she has kept for years. As the body count rises, Vanessa begins to realize who she really is…”
We’re no stranger to mythical creatures in young adult fiction, but sirens have mostly been an untouched topic. A topic our protagonist Vanessa Sands didn’t think she’d have to touch on either until the mysterious death of her older sister Justine.
Fearless Justine has always been a bit of a thrill seeker, and diving off Chione Cliff was always a favorite thrill when they visited Winter Harbor every year in the summer. Ever since a near drowning years earlier, Vanessa hasn’t been able to find the courage to head back into the water. Justine’s adventure seeking takes a turn for the worse when her jump off the cliff goes wrong and she loses her life to the water below. At least that’s what we’re lead to believe.
Vanessa doesn’t believe it was just an accident and returns to Winter Harbor to find some answers. She uncovers more than she bargains for when she realizes not just her sister’s true feelings, but also who Vanessa really is, and nothing will ever be the same. Not only that but there’s the mysterious Marchand family and Vanessa’s growing attraction to a childhood friend.
You might think you’ve got this novel all figured out. It’s about a bunch of mermaids with homicidal tendencies, with a bit of a love story thrown in. Wrong. Siren is a compelling mystery that’ll keep you guessing the whole way.
Tricia Rayburn’s writing is engaging as she takes us through the motivation of and background of the sirens as well as the history of Winter Harbor. Siren also has a very coming-of-age feel to the story as Vanessa not only deals with the devastating death of her sister but also uncovers truths about herself, her family and how people see her. She really grows throughout the story and finds the strength and bravery needed to take on the challenges coming her way.
Like all great YA books, there is a romance. I loved the natural development of Vanessa’s relationship with her childhood friend, Simon Carmichael. It was believable and sweet and balanced out the doom of so many murders. Simon is a real weather geek but all that knowledge is put to good use as Winter Harbor’s erratic weather points to forces beyond nature.
Though at first, I was going to give it a lower rating because of so many unanswered questions at the end, I did find out that Siren is the first of either two or three novels, which is definitely exciting. It’s got love, drama, the supernatural, a whole lot of mystery and a cute weather geek – what more could you want?
Publication Date: July 2010
Teaser Quote: “The man, whoever he was, was dead. Done. Gone. Washed up like a fish.
And when he turned over, his eyes were wide open and his mouth was stretched in a wide smile, like he was happy about it.”